Staffordshire County Council to publish plans for Cannock Chase in November

Staffordshire County Council is set to publish its plans for Cannock Chase in November, amid proposals to close car parks, introduce parking charges and manage the area.

The road near Cannock Chase visitor centre
The road near Cannock Chase visitor centre

The £7.8 million proposals have been put forward by the Cannock Chase Special Area Conservation Partnership (SAC) and will be put in place over 15 years, funded by money from housing developers .

They include closing 35 parking areas and applying charges at another 11, which officials say is designed to protect wildlife and habitats across the Chase. Critics say the move will put some people off visiting the site.

There are already parking charges at five Cannock Chase car parks, but the new proposals would expand them across the 30sq mile site. Some areas would remain free to park in.

It is understood all of the money raised will go back into managing the beauty spot.

The SAC includes many of the borough and district authorities of Staffordshire, as well as the county council, although the latter is not a voting member.

Staffordshire County Council will be considering later this year how the proposals might be implemented on its land.

The authority, which already charges at three car parks in the Cannock Chase and Chasewater area, is expected to publish proposals in November for all-party scrutiny.

It is anticipated the authority will consider charges initially at a maximum of 12 additional parking areas, but nothing will be implemented until 2022 at the earliest.

Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The county council has a legal and moral duty to protect the landscape and wildlife of Cannock Chase, balancing that protection with continued free access for around 2.5 million visitors a year.

“At the same time the SAC has agreed to introduce a car parking strategy across all the landowners on the Chase with the intention of reducing footfall where the landscape and wildlife are most vulnerable and increasing parking capacity in the more robust locations.”

She added: “None of the proposals changes people’s rights of access to Cannock Chase and Blue Badge holders will still park for free at all county council sites.

“The proposed changes to the car parks are part of a longer term need to influence people’s habits to protect one of the jewels in Staffordshire’s crown while maintaining open access.

“The reality is that while many small laybys will close, there will be more parking places overall, disabled access will be provided for and 50 locations across the Chase will still have free parking.

“No parking will be more expensive than at Chasewater, which currently costs £3 for a day, or less than 10p per day if you buy an annual permit, and any surplus will be reinvested in maintaining the countryside.”

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